There are some services that we as humans cannot live without. It is of paramount importance that we have security around where we live, work and frequent whether in a shopping mall or a pub. The police are the people vested with the most important job of keeping our streets free from crime and for arresting the criminals who are out to make our lives difficult by stealing and even killing people. The police usually take an oath of duty to serve and protect without prejudice, they should also not engage in unethical acts while dispensing their duties (Gaines & Miller 2008). It is therefore sad to note that the same policemen and policewomen engage in some immoral activities with the public as favors in return for their services. Some of these cases go unreported and thus make the police continue with these unethical practices. Some policemen look at the police work ethics codes as mere writings on a piece of paper and hardly observe them.
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In the society, ethical behavior is judged by actions and not by words. The ethics codes are meant to act as guidelines for the law enforcement personnel to conduct their duties in an ethical manner including doing investigations into crimes. The police are also clearly directed not to use force if none is necessary in the apprehension of law breakers and avoid at all costs engaging in actions that conflict with their interests as police officers and detest from corruption at all costs. Appropriate training completes the police guidelines and when they are working in a unit under the leadership of strong leaders then the police personnel have all the necessary tools and mental preparedness to dispense their duties in an ethical manner whilst upholding their good professional careers.
Corruption is one of the most common ethical issues facing law enforcement today. This is basically the lack of police integrity. This is the biggest obstacle to positive police-public relations in today's society (Banks, C, 2004). The police corruption normally includes acts of brutality, excessive force, inefficiency and the use of public office for private gain. Police brutality is the most reported type of corruption whereby the police use excessive force in the apprehension of criminals. Some cases report police as having beaten up suspects and in some severe instances the suspects even succumb to the injuries inflicted on them by the police. In a society where crime is rampant the most common people to be attacked by police are the young men who are always perceived to be doing something against the law.
People have for the longest time complained of this vice and with the advancement in technology, people have publicly shown the brutality actions that have been recorded on phones or on video and only in these cases are the officers involved charged. It turns out that in most of the cases reported to have taken place before, the police cover the bad actions of their colleague in an effort to save the face of the police force. Police inefficiency is another common corruption complaint from the public (Banks, C 2004). Police sometimes report on a crime scene and overlook some important details that could have led to the apprehension of suspects. This is because they dismiss some cases like theft in houses or loss of items and do not take them seriously. The complainant ends up being unhappy and dissatisfied with the way the police handled a complaint while the police do not make it a big deal. This ends up being a conflict between the accuser and the police.
Being as it is that the police are very important in the society and their duties cannot be overlooked, they tend to have a 'god' factor which makes them feel important, strong and indispensable. In the process they engage in actions that abuse their office. Almost each and every one of us knows of someone or has personally engaged a police officer in search of a 'favor' (Humberts, L, W 2002). Some people pay policemen to get out of criminal situations while others go on to bribe the police to have cases and evidence held against them dismissed. Police sometimes use their badges to harass other people on request of other people to scare them. In cases where a businessman has been robbed or frequently has his place of work vandalized, some business people go on to offer police freebies from their businesses as a deal with the police so that the police can maybe offer more patrols around that area to keep off vandals.
In the first place, it is the duty of the police to be offering the patrol services but given the free benefits they are getting from the business premises they will be more vigilant around that area. Police often get free sexual favors from clients on diverse grounds. An officer may demand sexual favors in return for the disappearance of crucial evidence in a case that the person offering the service is involved in. In other instances the police will demand the same from people doing other crimes so that they do not take them in, in this case, the police will keep coming back for the sexual favors and threaten the suspect that if they did not give in to the demands they would arrest them. In an instance like this, the police act as cover for criminals to keep breaking the law and expose the rest of the public to possible harm.
Money is the source of all evil and the rich criminals use this as their backup to keep their businesses going. Police are paid by drug barons to ensure that the people who work for them are left unharmed and are never arrested (Development, K., 2008). Drugs are the biggest social evils and many youth get lost in them. Drug barons are wealthy people who wield a lot of respect because of the money they have to dish around. The police are aware of these and those who can go on ahead to profit from keeping quiet about the where about and goings on in the drug industry and basically turn their backs on the drug pushers in return for money. Police have been known to hold associations with known criminals in many areas (Development, K., 2008).
Police have received bribes or gifts in different manner to keep a blind eye and watch over criminals. Some officers even offer to give out privileged information from their offices to criminals that they should not be doing. Police files have been known to go missing, police reports are altered and computer information too has been known to disappear. In some instances, the identity of confidential sources has been disclosed leading to the murder of useful would be witnesses to major crimes and thus the end to a vital police investigation. Police who are on the pay roll of powerful individuals go on to disclose information regarding ongoing and planned investigations to the concerned individual, office or group to alert them of them and thus the investigations go on to bear no fruits.
When arrests are made and the arresting officers find out that they do not have a strong case against the suspect, some go on to falsify the official reports including warrants, affidavits and witness statements to make sure that the suspects they had arrested are charged. It is almost impossible for a suspect to clear their name when something like this occurs in their case files. The police have regularly been involved in cases where they take or fail to take action against people due to their gender, race, religion, sexual orientation and national origin ( Humberts, L, W 2002). All people have an equal right to demand and receive police protection and especially since there is a diversity of people in all areas almost everywhere the police should be the last people to group people before offering their services because they are under oath to serve and protect without prejudice.
The police being law enforcers have the duty to protect the rights of all citizens and it is unfortunate that they should be the ones charged with failure to protect the rights of citizens and to follow set laws and court decisions regarding those rights with a reference to probable cause, interrogation and report preparations (Barrick, M. R., & Mount, M. K. 1991). Police corruption has been classified into three levels. Individual corruption which involves an individual police officer working in a department that discourages corruption, Organizational corruption which involves unethical acts occurring in a department in which the officers and administrators are involved together in an organized corruption practice and finally, environmental corruption which exists when politically significant groups generally tolerate and actively supports corrupt practices by the law enforcement personnel by the general public. Strong leadership that leads by example while avoiding questionable conduct is paramount for a police department to uphold ethical standards. Complete and extensive background investigations must be done regularly on all police officer before and during service to ensure they are ethical in their duties. All inappropriate conduct reported about police should be thoroughly investigated to keep out rouge officers. Model police officers should be awarded to give the force morale to keep doing their work of upholding justice.
As public servants the police owe their services to the society and thus cannot allow themselves to incur favors or become indebted to anyone (Barrick, M. R., & Mount, M. K. 1991). The topic of ethics and ethical conduct should be regularly addressed by all the concerned parties and emphasis should be put on the importance of upholding ethical standards. It is only through proper training, ethical leadership and solid hiring practices and written codes of ethics will our criminal justice system prosper.